It may be hard to imagine a barren desert filled with countless lush golf courses, but it's no imagined oasis. The desert of Las Vegas is graced by the hands of some of the top names in golf course design like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Pete Dye and many others.
With some of the best desert golf found in our country today, it's not hard to imagine Las Vegas as one of the worlds leading destinations for golf travelers. Aside from the mecca of themed casinos that grace the popular "Las Vegas Strip", golf in Las Vegas is just as grand and exciting. With so many to choose from, there are only a few which really make an impact to stand out as the top in golf choices for your next golf vacation.
What defines a great desert golf hole? Desert golf holes are distinctive in that there are few trees on the hole and the desert plays a major role in layout and play. We've narrowed down our top 5 desert golf holes right here in Las Vegas.
9th Hole, Par-4
This par-4 desert hole will test even the most advanced golfer. A replication of the 6th hole on the Geronimo golf course at Desert Mountain in Carefree, Arizona. At Bear's Best, the hole plays 453 yards but is downhill. Driver is not always the play off the tee, the best line on this hole is is with a fairway wood toward the right side of the fairway. There is a bunker down the left-hand side of the hole and if you fly the ball too far you can hit it into the desert area on the right.
Your approach shot is required to fly a desert ravine in order to find the green. This is a large green but is guarded by bunker both in front of and behind the green. If you hit the ball in the front bunker you will have a hard time making par from this deep pit. Be sure to check the pin placement as three-putts can result on this large green.
3rd Hole, Par-3
The 3rd hole at Rio Secco is one of the visually toughest holes on any golf course in Las Vegas. As you stand on the tee the only thing to grab your eye is the huge, looming canyon that sits between you and the hole. There is no room for error on this hole. Although not a long hole, only 180 yards from the farthest tee, the tee shot is the most important shot on this hole. The green sits right up against the edge of the of the canyon with the only buffer being a small thin finger of a bunker.
If you happen to hit your ball into the desert area you might as well re-tee as you will not be able to find your ball in the canyon. Unless of course you brought your rock climbing equipment with you. The best place to miss the ball on this hole is toward the left side. Here you will have the best chance at making a par.
11th Hole, Par 5
The Revere Golf Club is built on land that has distinctive black rock lining the fairways and desert areas. The 11th hole is a par five that plays downhill and ranges from 465-625 yards. From this elevated tee there is a desert oasis that is on the left side of the fairway. The best play is to aim down the right side of the fairway and hit the ball as far as you can. The ground surrounding the area is heavily sloped and will kick balls right back into the fairway. Going left is a big problem as the desert area greedily gobbles up golf balls and makes them hard to get back into play.
On your second shot you will have to maneuver around another desert outcropping right in the middle of the fairway. The best shot is to fly the ball right over this hazard, but if you can't, it is better to miss the ball to the left. On the second shot the fairway slopes from left to right so you will have a better chance of missing the desert if you hit the ball left.
The green is medium-sized but there are undulations that must be faced. Aim for the middle of the green and get out of this hole with a par. Chipping from the right side of the green is very difficult as there is a steep slope on this side of the green.
2nd Hole, Par-3
TPC Canyons plays annual host to the Frys.com Open in the middle of October. This golf course was designed specifically to host a PGA Tour event, so expect exceptional play. The 2nd hole is a par-3 that plays downhill and is almost like an island green surrounded by desert. The hole can play anywhere from 151-196 yards. The left side of this green is hugged by a desert area that sits about 10 ft below the level of the green. Here the desert is filled with thin trees and various desert life that makes it hard to find a ball hit into this area. The edge of the green goes right up to this desert area with no real buffer in sight.
The right side of the green is guarded by a sand trap and severely sloping ground that makes chipping very difficult. The best play is to aim for the middle of the green. Although not large, this green does have some swells and undulations that make putting tough. The greens on this golf course are usually very fast and you'll want to be as close to the hole as possible.
9th Hole, Par-4
This is one of the hardest par-4's in all of Las Vegas. Johnny Miller designed this golf hole and wanted to put a stamp on the brutal test of golf you have just played. From the back tee, this hole measures 473 yards but plays slightly downhill. The fairway on this hole can only be reached by flying a canyon about 200 yards and avoiding the ravine on the right-hand side. The best line off the tee is down the left side as the fairway is sloped from left to right. Any shots hit toward the right will bounce back toward the middle of the fairway.
You will need to hit a driver in order to have a prayer at reaching this green in two shots. Once in the fairway, players are left with a long to mid iron into this downhill green. The second shot on this hole must once again carry the ravine that now passes in front of the green. If you can safely find the green and make a par, you have accomplished a monumental task.
Desert golf is unlike any other golf in the country. With hard fairways and tough greens, these holes can be a test for any golfer. Once a ball is hit in the desert it is almost a miracle if you actually find it. The next time you plan to golf in Las Vegas be sure to check out some of these great desert golf holes.